by Nick J. Townsend
What is a Music All-Dayer?
An ‘All-Dayer’ is a music event traditionally held during a weekend and contains a line-up comprising of either a handful of well chosen suitable mostly unpaid performers or an insanely reckless amount of unknown singer songwriters and bands all sandwiched together into one long bill like commuters on an overcrowded Indian Train. Commonly a lone independent promoter is responsible for setting up the event which is often held within an inadequately sized small venue, club or pub (in some cases set up outdoors using a semen-stained marquee stolen from a Catholic wedding reception). He or she are responsible for organising the PA system and arranging a competent sound engineer (if you’re fortunate) that can tolerate multiple bands attempting to make deafness the number one emergency for the NHS, booking the talent and promoting the event along with communicating the running order and venue information to the acts expected to show up on the day; half of which will respond the night before with “Is this still happening?”.
Charity Workers at All Day Music Events
Apart from asking ‘Drinkaware’ and ‘Alcohol Change UK’ it’s surprisingly easy to convince a dedicated team of charity workers to attend an all day music concert and rattle neon buckets in drunk peoples faces, plus also (without their knowledge) have them resemble cheap substitute security services by insisting they stand near the front of the stage in their fluorescent uniforms like makeshift human shields protecting the band from fruit or armed unhinged Pantera fans. The charity workers will also create the illusion that the room is busier and will stick around to empty as many wallets as possible during this unique hostage situation. The organisers of an All-Dayer event will likely begin setting up extremely early in the morning, acts are given a basic line check and a strict narrow time slot that is rarely subject to negotiation. Bands are unlikely to receive any special treatment from the charity as they won’t know who the hell you are and especially none from promoters who aren’t exactly known for remembering the faces or names of musicians due to corresponding mainly via email and doing little if no research. Band members will be bombarded with guilt trips for not purchasing raffle tickets every fifteen minutes from the same charity workers who fabricate reasons why they can’t afford to buy the four track EP being sold by the band.
Hosting an All-Dayer
Even a low key gig featuring multiple bands requires a high standard of organisation just in case anyone from the general public actually attends. It’s vital to have someone totally responsible for introducing all the bands before they begin a set otherwise the crowd will appear bewildered and clueless; this person is frequently referred to as a compare or host. They will richly enhance the day if they possess the ability to speak in a clear confident manner and not imitate a timid mouse wearing earplugs whilst talking into their own chin. A useful compare will work alongside and cooperate with the sound engineer (unless they too are juggling that job), signal bands when they drift near their swan song; position themselves by the stage like a serial stalker ready for the end of each band set and broadcast a closing thank you on the microphone along with announcing to the crowd exactly who is on next and what time they start. If this isn’t done swiftly once the band has finished then an uncomfortable silence emerges as if someone has decided to declare a mandatory faecal matter eating contest at a funeral.
Effects of Non Participating an All-Dayer
After an opening act has arguably endured shame and ridicule from the initiation of playing first at an All-Dayer to a tiny crowd (the sound engineer, a cleaner and the already bored bar staff), they then, as the second band arrive, make the crucial decision to either pack up and leave the event or remain and watch the set of the following acts; essentially becoming the crowd. This after-performance participation behaviour is relied upon heavily by promoters to create a chain reaction that encourages the rest of the musical cannon fodder to do likewise. If this interaction doesn’t happen then proceeding bands on the bill may suffer a similar fate as the opener. If by some miracle a promoter has done a horrendous job of advertising the show then at least members of other bands can make up the audience numbers. Bands burdened with a bad slot or a poorly attended gig might impress a promoter by hanging around for the remainder of the event; creating potential to negotiate an improved slot for a different show or even fill in and play a second time during the All-Dayer if an act pulls out last minute (Of course, bands cancelling a show last minute is mere fiction).
All-Dayer Arrival and Leaving Times
Problems are likely to transpire if booked acts all decide to make an appearance at the venue five minutes before their scheduled set time and then promptly escape straight after playing; thus never meeting, hearing or networking with their fellow performers. These attitudes to arrival and leaving times may create future divisions and feuds between bands or shrink the significance of the event; especially if it’s raising money for an important charity. It could be argued that promoters insisting acts arrive at the beginning of all day events is chaotic and unnecessary but it can serve as an effective way of encouraging the entire band roster to be supportive of each other with a combined show of presence; except for the headliner who’ll likely show up when they feel like it because they’re probably the only band being paid.
Equipment Needed for the All-Dayer
A basic back line of music equipment, provided by the event organiser or the headliner, that all the artists are allowed to share and reshape is the perfect All-Dayer stage management scenario; instead there becomes no room for the thirty six bass amplifiers delivered throughout the day by the thirty six uninformed bass players each all hoping for their mother to pick up their gear the following morning. Ensuring that there is at least one drum shell, bass and guitar amplifier plus a microphone with a stand from the start of the event to the end is one of the main concerns for an organiser. Blu tack, drawing pins or sticky tape are also an ultimate necessity to bring with you on the day as you’ll need it to hang up the massive pile of event posters that were meant to go up four weeks beforehand.
That’s all for the wisdom I can muster this month. If you do want a serious long term career in music then I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this column every month. Until next time; begone.
Nick J Townsend is the frontman and guitarist for British band Weak13. An experienced Underground musician and music promoter, film producer, all round good guy & supporter of original music.